For readers of

Becoming Open Souls

Antonio A. Feliz

topia, n. 1. the ideal made real (derived from utopia)..
2. worldview based on universal compassion

Another World is Being Blogged
by Joel Federman

Defending Sergeant Benderman
Media Coverage of Davos vs. Porto Alegre Shows Elitist Bias
More News from the World Social Forum
100,000 Activists Gather to Build Another World:
fjfjfMajor Media Ignore Story

Monday, February 7, 2005

Defending Sergeant Benderman

SAN FRANCISCO (2:00 PM PST)--War is over if you want it: US Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman is a living embodiment of that principle.

Benderman's epiphany came on the Bush Administration's very different road to Damascus. On his first tour of duty in Iraq, he saw the reality of war unfiltered by major media and the Pentagon press office--he saw the hell of war itself. As Benderman puts it, "I have learned from first hand experience that war is the destroyer of everything that is good in the world." This fundamental reality of war tends to be obscured in all the talk--on all sides--about missing WMDs and the "spread of freedom."

After much introspection, Benderman is not just refusing to return to a second tour of duty in Iraq, he is refusing war itself. He is rejecting the idea that killing and maiming people and destroying their homes and communities is a road to a better future--for them or for us.

He has enlisted himself in the ranks of those who are building a different kind of world, and he has found the duty of civil disobedience. He is now facing court martial charges

My dear friend Carl Rogers, a co-founder of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (and soon of "Peace Central" on this site), heard of Kevin's case in the media, and contacted him to see what he could do to help. One of the things Kevin--and his passionately devoted wife Monica--needed was some support in setting up a presence on the internet, and Carl suggested hosting it on the topia site.

Here, then, is the Kevin Benderman Defense Committee website, which involves the collaboration of Carl Rogers, computer consultant/activist Aaron Mood--and Kevin and Monica Benderman.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Media Coverage of Davos vs. Porto Alegre Shows Elitist Bias--(4:00 PM PST)--Many reports now suggest that more than 120,000 people from 120 countries attended the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the last several days. Yet, major American news organizations have given it scant attention, especially compared to the World Economic Forum (WEF), in Davos, Switzerland, a international gathering of 2,000 government and corporate leaders.

Photo: BBC News

Many news outlets simply chose to ignore the WSF altogether (see below, January 28). Others made mention of it, but gave the story far less prominence that than the WEF. Newsweek, for example, provides a major multi-article feature section on Davos, but nothing on Porto Alegre. Most other major news organizations (see below) followed suit. One has to go to sources such as the Free New Mexican to find the Associated Press' story on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's January 30 address to the Forum; it's not on the MSNBC, Fox, or CNN websites.

Newsweek reports that the Davos Forum for the first time focused significant attention on issues of ethics and global poverty, perhaps in a nod to the WSF. French President Jacques Chirac, the magazine reported, called in a speech for a new global "war on poverty."

World Social Forum 2005: Click on the image for a fuller view. The WSF website has a photo exhibit of highlights from the event (the WSF website, where the link to this picture is located, is sometimes very slow to open, and sometimes fails to open).

Coverage in the alternative press (see below for more) included Democracy Now's Amy Goodman's interview with Njoki Njoroge Njehu of the 50 Years is Enough network. A good post-Forum evaluation of the event by Mario Osava of Inter Press Service was posted on Common Dreams, including mention of the controversy generated by the issuance of the Porto Alegre Manifesto by 19 progressive luminaries in attendance at the conference (for more on the Manifesto, see this page on the Inter Press News Service website).

The BBC provided fairly consistent coverage of the WSF, estimating that "more than 100,000" people had participated in the event--unlike most American outlets, which considetnly used the term "tens of thousands" to describe the numbers of participants.

The Associated Press (AP) provided some balance with this story (found in the Detroit Free Press) comparing both forums, noting that both had focused on the theme of global social justice. The AP was one of many American news sources to use the "tens of thousands" estimate. The Los Angeles Times, which had its own reporters at the event, was a notable exception to the pack, reporting the "more than 100,000" figure.

Here, again, is the official website of the World Social Forum. Please note that the website opens in Portugese; for the English language version, click on "English" at the top of the page. The World Economic Forum official website is here.

Friday, January 28, 2005

More News from the World Social Forum--(12:21 PM PST)--Slate has its own reporter at the Forum, Samuel Loewenberg, whose first "Dispatches from the Anti-Davos" ran today. Common Dreams' new article from Inter Press Service focuses on the same theme, contrasting the Social Forum with the World Economic Forum in Davos.

100,000 Activists Gather to Build Another World: Major Media Ignore Story--(1:54 AM PST)--You'd think that 100,000 people gathering from 120 countries in one place at one time for anything would be a major news story. Yet, as of this writing, if you click on the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, or the FoxNews homepages, you'll find nothing on the World Social Forum, taking place this week from January 26-31 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The goal of the Forum is to envision and build an "international democratic order" based on demilitarization, diversity and human rights.

To find coverage of the Forum, check out the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) website, here. Forbes.com provides the AP story on the opening of the forum, and CommonDreams provides a story from Inter Press Service.

The New York Times has a reporter, Todd Benson, at the forum, and you can find his story not on today's Times home page, but buried in the "Americas" section of the "International" news page of the Times (no link provided here: you need a free subscription to get to that page of the Times).

Here is the official website of the World Social Forum. The Forum website opens in Portugese; for the English language version, click on "English" at the top of the page.




Links to Another World:
Voices You May Not Have Heard

2005 United Nations World Summit
On September 14-16, 2005, the UN World Summit will bring together more than 170 Heads of State and Government: the largest gathering of world leaders in history. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take bold decisions in the areas of development, security, human rights and reform of the United Nations. More on the UN Millennium Goals here.

Peaceful Societies

Peaceful societies are contemporary groups of people who effectively foster interpersonal harmony and who rarely permit violence or warfare to interfere with their lives. The Peaceful Societies website serves to introduce these societies to students, peace activists, scholars and citizens who are interested in the conditions that promote peacefulness. It includes information on the beliefs of these peoples, the ways they maintain their nonviolence, and the factors that challenge their lifestyles.

This site's sole purpose is to try to save lives by helping stop the genocide in Darfur. It empowers you to take smart, strategic actions to compel those in power to act through international petitions or local events. It provides access to the best, most relevant and most up-to-date information available. www.savedarfur.org is a similar website.

An Appeal to Global Conscience
Signed by leaders of the American peace movement, this appeal, posted on Alternet, speaks for 40 million Americans who say the United States should immediately withdraw from the war in Iraq.

(Didn't Know I Was) UnAmerican
This is a powerful song and video by musician Ian Rhett, expressing pretty much everything that topia.net is all about. A cross between John Lennon's "Imagine" and one of Bob Dylan's early protest songs.

Jesus vs. Bush in 2008: What the Campaign Would Look Like
Many liberal and progressive politicians are now considering running away from their core values in the face of a skewed interpretation of the 2004 election result. The alternative would be to stand up for those values and advocte them vigorously--though, as this mock ad shows, even Jesus, the first liberal, would have hard time running against George Bush in 2008. (Be sure to turn your computer sound on for the voiceover.)

Your Global Rich List Position
This website provides a calculator that allows you to determine your annual income relative to the rest of the world. By entering your annual income, and clicking on the calculator, it gives you the following read-out, with specific dollar figures where the xxx's are: "You are in the top xx% richest people in the world. There are x,xxx,xxx,xxx people poorer than you. How do you feel about that? A bit richer we hope. Please consider donating just a small amount to help some of the poorest people in the world."

Parliament of the World's Religions
Authoritarian religion may be on the rise politically around the world, but so is a more inclusive vision. In July 2004, more than 8,000 religious leaders and lay people from around the world gathered in Barcelona, Spain, to explore a common spiritual vision of universal compassion, justice and nonviolent social change. Click above for a link to the Parliament of the World's Religions, and click here for links to other ongoing efforts of this kind.

Idealist.org and Opportunitynocs.org
Want to make a career of changing the world? Idealist.org and Opportunitynocs.org provide thousands of prosocial job listings, mostly in nonprofit organizations, according to city/state/country and job type.